Measuring Social Norms and Preferences Using Experimental Games: A Guide for Social Scientists

Colin F. Camerer and Ernst Fehr

in Foundations of Human Sociality

Published in print March 2004 | ISBN: 9780199262052
Published online January 2005 | e-ISBN: 9780191601637 | DOI:
 Measuring Social Norms and Preferences Using Experimental Games: A Guide for Social Scientists

Show Summary Details


The work of the cross‐cultural behavioural experiments project presented in this book is rooted in the logic of game theory and the practices of experimental economics, and this chapter provides an introduction to the fundamentals of behavioural game theory, and the procedures and conventions of experimental economics. It starts by defining the main social preference terms used – self‐interest, altruism, reciprocity, inequity aversion, and then sketches game theory in broad terms and describes some basic features of experimental design in economics. Seven games that have proved useful in examining social preferences are introduced; these are the Prisoner's Dilemma Game, the Public Goods Game, the Ultimatum Game, the Dictator Game, the Trust Game, the Gift Exchange Game, and the Third‐Party Punishment Game). The games are defined formally, indicating the aspects of social life that they express, and describing behavioural regularities found in experimental studies; these behavioural regularities are then interpreted in terms of preferences for reciprocity, inequity aversion, or altruism. The final sections of the chapter describe some other games anthropologists might find useful, and draw conclusions.

Keywords: altruism; behavioural regularities; cross‐cultural behaviour; cross‐cultural study; Dictator Game; experimental economics; game theory; Gift Exchange Game; inequity aversion; Prisoner's Dilemma Game; Public Goods Game; reciprocity; self‐interest; social norms; social preferences; Third‐Party Punishment Game; Trust Game; Ultimatum Game

Chapter.  14973 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Microeconomics

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.